A pregnant mum who only uses sustainable wipes and nappies for her son is adding her voice to calls for disposable wet wipes to be banned – saying reusable options are better for the environment and for babies’ skin.
Marketing manager Toria Shell, 27, insists washable wipes not only keep her son Miguel, 19 months, cleaner, but they also save money, reduce waste and mean avoiding harsh chemicals causing rashes on his delicate bottom.
Toria, of Nottingham, East Midlands, who is expecting her second child with her husband, Jorge, 38, who works in sales, in January, said: “We didn’t realise cloth wipes were a viable option until Miguel was three or four months old.”
She added: “Now we couldn’t imagine using anything else.
“Reusable wipes are probably better for baby skin anyway because of the chemicals in disposable wet wipes.”
Toria was already practicing sustainability when she gave birth to Miguel in April 2020 – so using reusable nappies and wipes was a logical move.
She said: “We were aware of cloth nappies, but hadn’t done our research before his birth, so we were a bit late to discovering washable wipes.
“Miguel was about three or four months old when we made the switch from disposable wet wipes.
“When you have a new baby, people buy you lots of supplies, so we had a lot of Miguel’s items, including wet wipes, stockpiled.”
She added: “When we got to the point where we were running out of them, we already thought disposable wipes were awful. They didn’t clean very well and were causing our little boy to have nappy rash.”
At that point, Toria decided to switch – buying in washable cloth wipes to clean her baby’s bottom instead.
She said: “I find the washable wipes to be really easy to use. It helps that we were already using cloth nappies, because it fits into our routine. We just stick the wipes in the wash with the nappies.”
She added: “It might be a bit of an adjustment if someone is switching to sustainable baby products for the first time, but it’s worth giving it a go.”
According to sustainability charity WRAP, reusable nappies can save first time parents around £200 to £500 over two-and-a-half years – with the savings growing if they use them again with subsequent children.
Meanwhile, experts at Greenpeace say each baby goes through around 6,000 nappies – with 90 percent of them ending up in landfills, where it takes more than half a millennium for them to break down.
Toria said: “I think it’s important to be as environmentally conscious as you can be when choosing baby products.
“I believe I should be aware of the drain having children has on our earth’s resources and I want to lower my carbon footprint as much as possible.
“I appreciate not all parents have the same resources or are in the same circumstances, so the kind of sustainability I promote is where we all make a conscious effort to make changes where we can.”
Using sustainable nappies and wet wipes is a great start, according to Toria.
And environmental organisation Friends of the Earth says wet wipes made up more than 90 per cent of the material causing sewer blockages that Water UK investigated in 2017.
Now Toria is now looking at other areas of her life where she can make more sustainable choices.
She said: “It becomes a natural snowball effect.
“Since swapping the nappies and wipes, I started buying secondhand toys and clothing.
“I’ve also looked at my own hygiene routine and started using reusable make-up wipes and sanitary pads.”
And she hopes that reusable baby products will become more mainstream in the future.
She said: “Some supermarkets have started to introduce their own brand of reusable nappies, which is a brilliant step forward.
“It would be great if other products, like washable wipes, could hit more shelves next.”
But while she backs a ban on disposable wipes, she wants more information to be available to parents on what they can replace them with.
She said: “I 100 per cent agree that we should be looking to ban plastic and wet wipes, but I think we need to also make it a lot easier for parents to have access to reusable alternatives.
“People need to be better informed about what other options are available to replace disposable wet wipes.”
She added: “The upfront costs are more when buying sustainable products. They cost around £25 for 25 wipes and around £150 for 15 nappies. But, in the long run, reusable nappies and wipes are definitely cheaper.
“And the more options there are out there, the more affordable reusable baby products will become.”
Toria hopes the government will offer incentives to help families make the switch to sustainable products, too.
She said: “It would be great to see more government incentives to help families with those upfront costs, whether it’s free trials or money off vouchers. Some councils do offer incentives, but it’s not a nationwide thing.
“If there was something put in place that was widely recognised nationwide, it would give parents a lot more options and help families in the UK to become more sustainable.
“But, with or without help, I will continue to be as sustainable as possible when we welcome our second child in the new year.”
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